Wire, Manscape

Douglas Wolk

By Douglas Wolk

on 07.14.11 in Reviews


Occasional flashes of their old eccentricity and power

The runt of the Wire litter, Manscape was the final album of new material they released in their ’80s incarnation, and these days it’s pretty much totally dismissed by both the band and their fans. It’s reliant enough on pre-programmed rhythms that drummer Robert Gotobed quit before its brief promotional tour, and the lazy synth presets that are all over it are something of a shock from a band that had always relied on its members’ idiomatic playing. The lyrics, for the most part, are alternately glib and incomprehensible — “cut and diced it always lacks passion,” goes a line in “Patterns of Behaviour,” which sums up the problem. There are occasional flashes of their old eccentricity and power, but only one song here (Graham Lewis’s frothing-at-the-mouth “Torch It!”) ended up being included on The A List, their phase-2 greatest-hits collection.